He combines elements of some of the best Star Wars characters, starting off life as a humble farm hand like Luke Skywalker, eventually becoming a hired gun like Han Solo, looking a hell of a lot like Obi Wan Kenobi, and last but not least becoming a valued asset to the Jedi Order. If you’ve not guessed by now, or haven’t seen the title of this article, I am of course talking about Kyle Katarn.
Now, on first glance, it’s hard to imagine that Kyle would become the beacon of light that we know and love seeing as he enrolled in the Imperial Academy following a Rebel attack during which his parents were killed and he became filled with hatred, uh oh dark side warning! He went on to shine in the Imperial Special Operations department and began supervising missions against the Rebellion. His success in one such operation even earned him the Imperial Medal Of Valour.
Luckily Kyle eventually wised up, thanks to his pilot and love interest Jan Ors, who just so happened to be a double agent working for the Alliance and revealed to Kyle that it was actually the Empire who was responsible for his parents’ early demise. When Jan was discovered by the Empire, Katarn helped her to escape thus ending his Imperial career and starting his freelance mercenary work, the majority of which involved spying for the Rebellion.
There are two things that stand out about Katarn at this point in his life; one, he’s not afraid of a challenge, seeing as he takes on missions like stealing the Death Star plans, with a quick shrug as if it was nothing; and two, you wouldn’t want to be fighting against him because he’s a dab hand with any laser or projectile weapon, taking down enemies such as dark troopers with relative ease.
Still, he’s relatively uncivilised in his methods at this point, although something special began rising to the surface, enough so that even Darth Vader made an off hand comment about his force potential.
Following the events of Return Of The Jedi, Katarn came across a droid who informed him that his father was actually killed by a Dark Jedi called Jerec and gave him a disk that could only be read by one of his father’s droids. Once he located the droid and viewed the message on the disk, a compartment on the robot opened revealing an item that helped to start him on his path to becoming a great Jedi Knight; a lightsaber!
He embraced his force potential and began to learn new abilities whilst trying to protect the Valley Of The Jedi from a horde of Dark Jedi, and ultimately deciding which side of the force his path was to take, before dealing with Jerec once and for all.
One of the main reasons that so many people took to Kyle Katarn, was the fact that he gave us our first real glimpse into what it might be like to actually be a fledgling Jedi Knight, having to quickly master lightsaber skills and force powers, take on true evil within the galaxy, and resist the lure of the dark side. It’s also a great feeling the first time you ignite the lightsaber in Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2, or force push a group of storm troopers out of your way.
Kyle left the Jedi teachings for a little while, deeming them to be too dangerous for him, after he was so nearly consumed by the dark side. However, he quickly stepped back up to the plate when Jan was captured and seemingly killed by Desann, yet another Dark Jedi, and his apprentice Tavion. Once Jan was rescued and he’d ended Desann’s brief reign of terror, Kyle came to the decision that the Jedi Order was the best place for him to be, and he quickly rose to the rank of Jedi Master where he taught and mentored many young Jedi, before finally obtaining the rank of Battlemaster.
Kyle’s an interesting Jedi, whilst he’s a purist in the sense that he only uses a single lightsaber preferring to change stances when he needs to mix things up, it’s not the only weapon he uses, far from it in fact! He’s quite happy to pick up a discarded blaster or a thermal detonator if it’ll ensure a quick victory. His negotiation skills aren’t quite as well honed as Master Qui-Gon Jinn, but he knows how to get his point across in his own no nonsense way. Finally, his mastery of the force is something quite spectacular to behold, throwing objects and enemies around when necessary, and even dabbling with darker powers like lightning and choke.
Ultimately though, Kyle Katarn is undoubtedly one of the most heroic Jedi Knights that the order’s had, selflessly throwing himself into harms way to save those in need, whilst maintaining peace and justice within the galaxy, without picking up an air of arrogance and remaining a pretty stand up guy that you’d be happy to go for a drink with at Mos Eisley Cantina.
Of course this is all assuming that you prefer to lead him down the path of the light side, things can turn a lot more sinister if you decide to guide him towards the dark side!
First published on Dealspwn (17 April 2011)